NJ Marriage Counselor’s Advice on Financial Infidelity
A new Bankrate survey finds 39% of adults who are married or living with a partner have committed some form of financial infidelity against their spouse.
Somerset County marriage counselor Marty Tashman said financial infidelity is a huge issue in relationships. These days people worry about having enough money to pay the bills.
The central feature of every relationship is the notion of trust, he said. Whether it’s emotional, physical, or financial infidelity, if you can’t trust your partner, everything else becomes suspicious, Tashman said.
That pairs up with how you deal with money. There are different money personalities. Some hoarders never have enough, some spenders get a high from spending, and there are judges who think there is something wrong with money, Tashman explained.
How a couple deals with money, is very important. Tashman said if one person suspects their partner of spending money without checking in with that partner, then that’s a problem. The idea of communicating about and learning about money Is important.
The survey also found that 52% said financial cheating is at least as bad as physical cheating. This includes 12% who say financial cheating is worse and 40% who say it’s equally as bad. Meanwhile, 48% believe that physical cheating is worse.
Tashman said of the people who commit physical infidelity, there is a 68% return rate that they reconnect with each other, which is a very high number. As far as financial infidelity, he said he does not think it’s as serious as physical cheating but it is still a big deal.
People are working so hard to survive. They’re losing their houses and having trouble finding jobs. Everyone is supposed to be working together as a team. So, if one person finds out their partner is taking money, it’s very hard to work that back, Tashman said. The more open you are with finances, the better.
He said couples should have weekly or monthly meetings to look at their finances together and discuss mutual goals. When that doesn’t happen, it creates an atmosphere of lack of trust.
Both partners should have a say in what goes on in the finances. Both should be aware of what their finances are, and couples should plan what they want to do with their money.
“If someone commits financial infidelity, the dreams go away. When a couple has lost their dreams, they’ve lost the soul of their relationship,” Tashman said.
The survey also found that among those who are married or living with a partner, 12% currently have a secret credit card, 9% have a secret savings account, and 6% have a secret checking account.
Why the secrets?
Shame, said Tashman. Some people feel ashamed that they’re spending too much money so they hide it from their partners. Others may feel their partners are too controlling and having a secret credit card gives them a sense of freedom.
One way to set up finances is for him to have an account, for her to have an account, and then a joint account for the joint expenses.
“That’s a way where there is the most transparency and the least possibility for a misunderstanding, let alone financial infidelity,” Tashman said.
Financial infidelity is most common among younger generations, according to the report. A whopping 63% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 26), and 54% of millennials (ages 27 to 42), who are in a live-in romantic relationship have kept a financial secret from their partner.
Tashman said at different ages, there are different priorities for money. The younger generations want money for housing and to pay for vacations. Older generations need money to pay for college tuition and retirement.
If couples don’t have enough money for retirement because one-half of the couple is misspending the joint amount of money, it ruins the last half of their lives. It’s not only that they can’t trust each other, but the consequences are disastrous, Tashman said.
The takeaways from this survey are that couples should have regularly scheduled dates. That’s not a financial issue, that’s an emotional one, he said.
Second, they should have business meetings, and discuss the finances and the accounts. Whoever is in charge of the finances should educate their partner about their money issues. If one partner dies and the other doesn’t know about their finances, it makes them lost in the grieving process.
Finances must be a shared discussion and a regular one, he said.